Tuesday 15 December 2015

A Look At... Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye!

Welcome fictional friends to the second of my Yay New Star Wars Film Celebratory Look At Posts, which are fittingly a trilogy. Today’s subject is the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was the first original Star Wars novel to be released (in 1978), it was written by Alan Dean Foster who had previously ghost-written the novelisation of A New Hope Star Wars (Star Wars: From the Adventures of
Luke Skywalker) which was, of course, credited to George Lucas. According to Foster Splinter’ was written to be a low budget film sequel that Lucas could fall back on should Star Wars not be a success (yeah there was a time when people thought Star Wars wouldn’t be a success – ‘people’ being everyone but George Lucas, Kenner and Roy Thomas it seems). This accounts for various things about the book, including its setting and the lack of Han Solo (as Harrison Ford hadn’t signed on to do a sequel when it was written). I have very little time for tie-in novels, I’m sure many of them they’re very good but I just don’t particularly like reading them, I don’t have a good argument for why I just don’t – luckily I don’t have to in this case because Dark Horse comics adapted it in 1995-6 after having had success with another Star Wars novel-to-comic adaptations with the Thrawn Trilogy. The script’s being adapted by Terry Austin, a prolific inker (aww you trace) at Marvel and DC who most notably worked with John Byrne on Uncanny X-Men and Superman Volume 2 and being drawn by a favourite comic artist of mine, Christ Sprouce – probably most famous for his work on Alan Moore’s Tom Strong and who we’ve already seen in my Look At the Multiversity. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll being:

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye issues 1-4)
Quick Summary: not long after the destruction of the Death Star, Leia and C-3PO are forced to land on Mimban after their ship is damaged, Luke and R2-D2 intend to follow but both crash after being caught in an electrical storm, they meet up and Leia momentarily gets caught in some quicksand like mud because fetishes. After a night’s sleep and some incestuous thoughts from Luke the foursome find a secret Imperial minding facility, steal some clothes and get some food, whereupon Luke slaps Leia one to keep their cover and they see the Imperial forces abusing the local ‘greenies’ for their amusement. Food eaten they’re approached by an Halla, who is Force sensitive and does them a deal, she’ll help them steal a ship and get off the planet if they’ll help her find the Kaliburr crystal. Halla even has a shard, or a splinter if you like, and Luke realises it can enhance a person’s Force Powers (pretty much). Leia getting Luke back for the slap causes horseplay that causes them to get into a fight with some miners; Halla leaves them to their fate and takes the droids with her. The miners get their arses kicked but they all get arrested and taken to local Little Hitler, Grammel; he takes their weapons, their shard and throws them in a cell with two not-Wookies after they lie and tell him they’re escaped convicts. While checking their story (which Grammel doesn’t believe) they find out who Leia is and the message is sent to Darth Vader. The not-Wookies turn out to be Yuzzem, and Luke speaks Yuzem (from his farm boy days), they’re hung-over but helpful and after Halla shows up to help, the four escape and in the process Luke gets his lightsabre back and Grammel gets a head injury. The group head towards the temple where the crystal should be but run afoul of a phallic symbol George Lucas Wandrella, a giant worm.  

Vader’s nearly at Mimban and the Wandrella clearly has a taste for Skywalker bloody, perusing Luke & Leia while the others escape, they lead it down a huge shaft that turns out to be a tunnel belonging to an indigenous underground tribe the Coway, the Wandrella falls down and takes the ladder so the two move through the tunnels, finding and crossing a lake using a giant lillypad. Halla and the droids get captured then the siblings get jumped by some Coways, they deal with them via murder. But the Coways are impressed and have Luke fight their champion, when it looks like Luke’s going to be drowned by said champion Threepio screams their word for quit – quitting will get them all killed btw. Of course no one listens to Threepio and the champion gets brained by a rock, Leia says it was Luke’s doing but he’s…not sure (nor am I, I think it was Halla?). The celebratory feast is ruined by the approach of Darth Vader and a shitload of Stormtroopers though, as the best warrior now, Luke is judged by the chief to lead the Coway forces. It goes surprisingly well and Leia shoots Vader in the back, but he’s alright and Luke senses he’s heading for the crystal too, the group steal themselves and transport and Vader slices Grammel in half for his failure (holy shit). At the temple the group are attacked by a dinosaur as they find the gem, and Luke is trapped under rubble caused by it, so when Darth Vader arrives Leia takes his lightsabre and duels with him! Yeah she gets her arse kicked and Luke ends up saving her, duelling his daddy until the Dark Lord of the Sith um, trips up his own severed arm and falls down a big hole but holy shit, go Leia! Hall uses the gem to heal both Skywalkers and they head off to steal a ship and get to where they were going.

So this was written to be a lower-budget sequel to A New Hope? You can tell. The whole story is exactly the sort of late 70’s low budget sequel I’d expect, it’s even written around only the few actors who signed on with pale imitations of the characters played by the actors who didn’t to replace them. We get a wholly uncreative premise – people looking for a MacGuffin and having various random encounters until they fight the bad guy at the end, mind you Star Wars didn’t have the most original plot but this feels like the sort of film that was releasd in the wake of Star Wars, not offensive but lacking that ‘sparkle’ that Star Wars had, but then I suppose it would have been such a film! So as a side story between two films its fine but as a film it would have been a big disappointment. Speaking of disappointments: Darth Vader falling down a hole, that’s pathetic! I do understand the position Foster was in, for its original intention he needed to keep Vader possibly alive for a possible sequel and as a novel he had to keep Vader alive for the actual sequel and Luke couldn’t look too strong because that wouldn’t have fitted with said sequel so he couldn’t have Luke just kick his old man’s arse or fucking cut him in half but surely you could have brought the temple down and have Vader flee for his own safety or have the gem, y’know the TITULAR GEM, do something to him or give Luke a power surge and have him fling the elder Skywalker across the planet? Anything must be better have having him fall down an hole, surely?      

That scene however gives the story/novel/comic it’s one big plus and that’s having Leia fight Darth Vader one-on-one, we never saw Leia fight Vader (we saw her sass him) and it is so cool to have this scene, this is what I think the stories in expanded universe material should be doing, giving us things we didn’t/couldn’t see in the source material and it gives the novel/story/comic something important, something that makes it more than just a tie-in novel/comic/story, this is the tie-in novel/comic/story where Leia fought Vader. To make it better it’s actually a good fight that Leia does shitty in, stopping it from being unbelievable.

Uncreative premise aside Foster is does a pretty good job, I say Foster because I’m assuming Austin adapted this pretty much straight when it comes to dialogue, I haven’t read the novel but I read the Wookieepedia articles and very little dialogue seems to have been changed (though people who say it have been, most of this work in the story’s favour but it could very well mean Foster isn’t as good as I say). Anyway ghost writing that adaptation must have given Foster the necessary insight into the characters and more so the balance of comedy and action of Star Wars because everything felt pretty much right to me, but then I’m only a casual fan, I’m sure the hardcore Star War faithful could pick any number of moments where Foster didn’t’ ‘get the characters’ but I had very little problems, I might question Luke and Leia play fighting at such a time but the farm boy DID deserve it. Speaking of that, Luke & Leia, it’s not quite as bad as you might be lead to believe but it is there, Lucas has attempted to explain this away saying some bullshit like ‘it was always intentional to show they had feelings for each other but they just weren’t sure what feelings’ or something similar – horseshit, they fucking mud wrestle in one scene, there is more ship teasing than the Mary Celeste, hell by the end of the story I was rooting for them to get it on and I know they’re related! Speaking of that, Leia, she got sexualised pretty hard in this, going from her white robes to a tight black t-shirt then a form hugging all-in-one ninja suit thing, in the book she also has her hair down for most of the story, I think we have a case of…what does TV Tropes call fanservice when it’s authorservice? *Google* Author Appeal! That’s it! Lots of Author Appeal, especially as this was written in a time before Slave Girl Leia was a thing. Christ Sprouce is also brilliant, he’s always fantastic though, he has a clean, attractive style – never shies away from detail or backgrounds and never veers into the exaggerated or ‘Escher-girl’ anatomy, in fact he rarely draws anything off-model. His likenesses though, I’m honestly not sure if he’s trying to do them or not, but they do somehow look like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher despite being firmly in his style, more so Hamill than Fisher but then I don’t think a lot of people get Fisher right and I feel few bother (the cover artist for this series does though, his name’s Hugh Flemming, and I wished he’d remade the novel’s cover for one of the four issues – issue four preferably – I love that drawing, I have it saved in high res on my computer even).      

All-in-all its ok, it’s a nice little side-story with some good art and dialogue and a great moment you couldn’t get anywhere else, and incest, it’s not amazing but it’s far, FAR from terrible – Darth Vader falling down a hole aside.

Next time we Look At the Heir to the Empire which has a blue bloke in it, I think, I get it mixed up with Dark Empire. 

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